I have enjoyed my experience with the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) subway service in Hong Kong for a long time. I remember the sense of freedom to move fast from one end of Hong Kong to the other end of the city. The MTR freed up a lot of my time. That was in the late 1970s in the last century.
Singapore opened up its subway system a few years after Hong Kong. I found it amusing to hear that the subway system in Singapore was called MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). The MTR or MRT, whatever you call it, the tunnels looked almost identical, the tickets were similar and the cars looked almost like twins. Without any doubt, both were (and still are) economical and offered an essential great service for millions on a daily basis.
Chicago was the second city I called home. Before 1990, all my life was in Hong Kong. I packed up my life from my home town and moved to Chicago in 1990 to pursue further advanced clinical dental training. Naturally, the third subway line I rode was the Chicago subway (CTA, Chicago Transit Authority) – it was also fondly known as the “L” by the locals there. I happened to live only a block away from the Chicago station, off the intersection of Michigan Ave and Chicago Avenue (how convenient!!). The first time I rode the L was to visit Northwestern University International Student Office in an area called Noyes, which was near the end of the subway line. I vividly remembered that we covered the Chicago subway line story when I was about 14 year-old in our English General Reading class in St Louis School. It was one of the oldest subway systems in the world. However, I felt cheated when I found out that part of the long journey was not underground… Silly me – “L” was the colloquial name for the “elevated” transit railroad. On a side note, many friendly Chicago folks helped me along the way to Noyes, or else I would had been forever lost there.
The cost of automobiles is extremely high in Singapore. Since a long time ago, one could have a Porsche 911 in the USA for the price of a Honda Civic in Singapore, no exaggeration!! Lucky me, unlike many big boys, I never really enjoyed driving. To me, driving is a chore that I can do without in life.
I actually got scared one time in 1992 when my good friend, Charles Ho, passed me the key to his Porsche 928 and asked me to take it out for a spin. It was a nice looking lowered suspension car with a modified body and extra-wide wheels. Oh, did I forget to mention the musical note from the powerful 8-cylinder engine? It was a dream to many men (or big boys)! At that point of time, I was a testosterone filled 26 years old junior dentist working with the top of the world UCLA implant group! It was just nice, wasn’t it?
Charles trusted me with his nice German car even though he knew my driving record was sub-standard, to be very honest. We both were German engineering fanatics since young, we were always in awe of the German armored vehicles since grade school. Sure enough I took his car for a spin. Well, just once. I handed the key back to him in approximately 60 seconds! That was before I finished shifting the car into second gear!! It scared my shXX out behind the steering wheel with that kind of horsepower! I was officially self-diagnosed with a terrible allergy to automobile piloting.
The new downtown line MRT in Singapore is God-sent! It covers most places that my family and I frequently visit. It is another great reason for not purchasing a vehicle, which will not make me poorer and certainly tax less of my time and effort. I will be silly to object it. I am all for it.